Public nest announcements

To: Chris Watson <>
Subject: Public nest announcements
From: Peter Shute <>
Date: Tue, 20 Sep 2016 01:51:23 +0000
Chris, are you referring to Jonny Schoenjahn's email here of 23/7/16? I took 
that as a request for people to keep their distance, and to wait till eggs are 
hatched (September was suggested), but I don't think there was a request for 
secrecy, or to stay away altogether.

I don't think there's has been much discussion of the birds here, so perhaps 
that's why there's been no reaction. I've seen photos on Facebook, but didn't 
pay much attention. If people have been getting that close to active nests then 
it shouldn't go unmentioned. Do you know if there's been evidence of nests 
being abandoned?

Peter Shute

Sent from my iPad

On 20 Sep. 2016, at 9:45 am, Chris Watson 
<<>> wrote:

G’day all,

This post might be interpreted as vaguely rebarbative but I’m genuinely 
interested in having this discussion.

After posting about some forthcoming trips to see Letter-winged Kites, I, and 
by extension Mark Carter who organised the trips I would be running, received 
what amounted to an uninformed public dressing down from a researcher who 
suggested that the proposed trips posed a risk to the welfare and nesting 
success of the birds. This public response was made without contacting us 
beforehand to establish our own understanding of the relevant issues and 
ignored the fact that the ethical parameters of the trips were clearly and 
prominently outlined in my post.

I thought it was completely uncalled for but… such is life in the online age.

It left us in a, “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation in which we 
decided the only recourse was the prompt cancellation of the trips so the 
finger could not be pointed at us in the event that any nests did fail, for any 

Fast-forward a couple of months however, and it’s difficult not to be perturbed 
by the double-standard on show. At the time of my post, the breeding sites were 
a poorly-kept secret already. They are now completely public. Nests have been 
visited by, conservatively, dozens of birdwatchers and photographers and a 
cursory look through online birding groups reveals hundreds of images from the 
sites, many of them with locations very specifically identified or 
identifiable. Without doubt, there are pictures online which have been taken 
from within 30 metres of an active nest when I was publicly warned to remain a 
minimum of 300m distant from any nesting activity. A quick look through public 
eBird lists from the region shows people submitting annotated lists, detailing 
nesting activity at specific sites.

All of this is occurring on publicly viewable sites and social media accounts – 
where’s the disapprobation now?

When it was two trained zoologists, with the requisite wildlife permits, 
suggesting showing these amazing birds to people under supervision that would 
ensure the birds’ welfare was prioritised, we were admonished for our perceived 
lack of consideration.

Why is the entire birding community, which is usually red-hot in scotching the 
publicising of nest sites for Grey Falcon, Princess Parrot, etc, now complicit 
in the tacit approval of this blatant show-casing of specific breeding sites 
for a nationally endangered bird in such an accessible location?

I’m prepared for many to write this off as sour grapes on my part but it’s also 
a serious question.

Why are we letting this happen?


Chris Watson
Mob - 0419 358 942

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